Our Full Monte Life…

March in Review

Growing Green

Seedlings have been romping away this month encouraged by rising temperatures and longer days.  The flowers are mature and robust after being potted on and hardened off thoroughly this year.

March flowers

I’m really looking forward to planting the tyre wall any day now – the plants are just going to romp away once their roots are set free.  And this year we’ll have trailing petunias, trailing sweet peas and lobelia so we may finally achieve the effect of colour and form frothing and spilling over the tyres that I’ve been aiming for in the past. The only disappointment is the marigolds – pot marigold have germinated but no others.  Maybe the seeds weren’t viable but they usually self-sow every year of their own accord so it seems unlikely.  I’ve chucked some in the ground to see if they’ll take and if it’s the conditions in the nursery that are not right…

Courgettes & lettuce have all been transplanted into the raised beds already and seem to be faring well, despite Steve’s nervousness about putting them in so early.

March courgettes & lettuce

Tomatoes are in too, with the watering system in place again…

March tomatoes

Carrot seedlings are few and far between but are starting to appear.  Peas are pushing through and they are joined in their earthy bed by local beans and runner beans (Wisley’s Wonder – donated by my mother-in-law if memory serves me right), tho’ neither of the latter have shown their stems yet.

Rocket, radish and beetroot are coming up from seeds I sowed directly.  Herbs are coming up in the herb bed and more have been sown in between the tomatoes and in pots.

The only remaining veg to be planted out are the peppers, chillies & marrows (which have not long germinated after the first saved seed didn’t take), butternut squash and pumpkin:

Peppers & pumpkin FB


Baking & Making

Not a whole lot going on in the kitchen this month.  After what feels like months of jam, marmalade & chutney making it was nice to have a break from preserving.  I have been using my pressure cooker loads tho – making stews from poorer quality meats are so quick and simple, and cheap too.  Bung in the meat, veg and herbs, add a cup or 2 of water, bring it up to temperature and leave it for 40 mins – job done.

Feelings & Musings

The one word to sum up this month… memorable.

This is not a month we’ll forget in a hurry, sadly mostly for the wrong reason.  The first week in March our friend Michelle’s partner, David, died.  It was sudden and unexpected and it rocked our world.  Plans went out of the window as we rallied round to be with Mich, get her on a plane to the UK where his body was and help her deal with the numerous practicalities that had to be faced.  Me & a few good folk were with her in the first few days as she grieved, got angry and just tried to absorb the shocking news.  It was heartbreaking for us all.  As luck would have it, Steve & Carrie were both on the same flight back to the UK as Mich so she was supported all the way to the plane and off it.

Mich had been caring for 2 puppies, abandoned at 10 days old, who’d found their way to the dog shelter.  The most practical help I could give Mich in the short-term was to look after the puppies while she was in the UK, since no-one else was able to take on the responsibility.  The pups, brother & sister (Boris & Anja), were a handful.  They had not been immunised and had been kept indoors for the past 2 months (as Mich’s house didn’t have a puppy-proof boundary or any grass) and were not really house-trained.  Daisy was not amused by the new, badly behaved intruders!

Luckily the weather was gorgeous so they lived outside for most of the time.  Apart from the odd foray outside the boundary (they were still wee enough to squeeze through the railings), they pretty much stayed put, especially with Daisy on guard, so they enjoyed unprecedented freedom and got used to ‘toileting’ outside.  They were a tie – we couldn’t leave them for long periods and were nervous about taking them up to the campsite with no jabs to protect them from disease so it contained our activity but it was all worth it to give Mich one less thing to worry about.  And they were very cute:


Steve went to the UK to check a suspected cyst in his jawbone (nothing to worry out we hope, more tests later in the year) and I had a crazy week without him – worrying about him, fretting about Mich, dealing with naughty puppies… And work commitments increased.  I landed some new work with PM as well as having to prepare for the imminent workshops.

The Lane family returned to Monte a few days after Steve got back – memorable but in a happy way.  We all met up at Izvor a few hours after they landed and a wonderful afternoon/ evening unfolded as friendships were renewed, hugs hugged and stories swapped.  And of course we HAD to have a huge party to mark the occasion, which was more or less memorable depending on the amount of alcohol consumed (Matt ‘lost’ the back end of the evening apparently!).

It was a stressful month with a lot of change for us all.  I ran my first workshops here in Monte and realised how much adjustment was needed to facilitate learners whose first language wasn’t English and just how exhausting it was doing the course single-handedly.  Daisy had to adjust to sharing space with puppies who nicked her toys, scoffed her food and made messes where they shouldn’t.  And Steve had to adjust to all the changes in his ‘pack’ as a result.

I managed to prang the Mazda not once but twice, on 2 consecutive days – thus trashing a near flawless record.  Jim, if you’re reading this, fear not – repairs are all in hand and we’re taking the opportunity to give the car a full re-spray!

A tragedy in our midst made us count our blessings – how lucky we are to have each other still… It makes you hold each other a little tighter.  It’s also a reminder of living life to the full whilst we can and of the importance of preserving our health.  The critical role that friendship plays in my life has been brought home to me most acutely.  It’s not only Mich who’s suffered loss and pain this month – friend close and far away are troubled right now and friends rallying to help friends is something irreplaceable.  Matt & Amy stepping back into our lives was a wonderful reminder of how mates can re-connect so easily when there’s true feeling behind it all.

It has also made me long to have my great buddies close to me.  Thankfully this is not just wishful thinking: Katie will be back in a few short weeks; Jess & Dunc are here for nearly 2 weeks in May ; Annie is planning a visit – hopefully May but if not surely September; Ditsch & Vince are hoping to visit in June and Carrie, who has been my rock professionally-speaking but also an amazing friend in every way, has finally made the decision to properly move her life to Monte, so will be a more constant companion in months/ years to come…

And talking of friends – our 4-legged one has been very out of sorts this month.  We noticed a few days after the puppies had finally been returned to Mich, that Daisy had nasty sores on the joints of her legs.  She was licking so hard the bone was exposed and it was clearly painful to touch.  We took her to the vet who took samples of the skin, looking for scabies or some other parasite.  Nothing could be seen under the microscope and the more I monitored her behaviour, the more I became convinced this was anxiety related.  She’d been stressed by the puppies arrival but seemed equally stressed by them leaving; the pressure washer completely freaked her out (she couldn’t get her head around the water cascading down the house from the top terrace and the noise of it drove her bonkers!) and a bad storm with lots of thunder & lightning sent her under our bed for cover – unheard of!

It seemed she’d lost confidence and was spiralling into an anxious downturn.  And of course, we forget how pets can pick up on owners vibes… the sadness we felt for David’s passing, the anxiety we felt for Mich learning to live without him, the worry we had for her well-being after existing on little sleep or food during the distressing time in the UK – these were all taking a toll on us, and via us, on Daisy.  It was extremely unsettling having our furry friend so out of sorts. And a good reminder of her role in the pack – to pester us into going for walks (she lost the appetite for exercise too); to demand (in that gentle way through her eyes alone) our attention and to claim a place in our hearts, to be cuddled and played with and loved.  So simply made and so strongly felt, these bonds.  And yet how fragile a life can be…



I’m ashamed to report I’m still working through my first Salman Rushdie book!  This is not so much a reflection of the writing, tho it is not exactly ‘un-put-downable’, rather it speaks volumes of the competing stimulus for my head space.  Far from being able to shut my mind off and engross myself in a good book, I’ve needed quiet time simply thinking and re-playing events in my mind to fully absorb and process the events of this month.  And when my head has been stuck in a book it been ‘Coaching for Performance’, ‘Effective Coaching’, ‘The Tao of Motivation’ or other such ‘work’ books that I’ve needed to swot up on!



The waitressing gig at Izvor came to an end pretty abruptly when attendance of the Portonovi crew at the rugby nights dwindled fast to a number that Bobo could easily deal with alone.

But landing a 6-session coaching contract with a senior manager at PM more than made up for the loss in income, although the coaching work is far more stressful!

Working here in my role as HR professional has been challenging but enjoyable.  I’m having to separate my ‘selves’ more completely and be more responsible – no knocking off early for a cheeky glass of wine when a client may call or a coachee may need telephone support… Mon-Fri, 9-6pm are days and hours for working now and I’m drawing tighter boundaries.  My identity as a naturist eco-warrioress doesn’t necessarily happily co-exist with my professional identity – well, it does in my mind but not in others – so I’m more cautious about what I share with the participants on courses or those I am trying to win business from.  This is not without its tensions, but it’s all do-able.

Running the 2 x 2-day workshops was hard work but a great learning experience.  At the end of the first day of the first workshop I was busily re-writing exercises for the following day and adjusting the timings and content according to the learner’s needs.  Flexibility is crucial in providing what the learners need, not what you want to give them – but it can be exhausting responding so fluidly.  There’s lots I would wish to be different but that’s based on my experience of dealing with professional organisations in the UK.  Here things are different, I can’t afford to take too much time fact-finding and planning, I first have to deliver results and prove my worth and once I’ve gained some momentum I may be able to take a more strategic (that dirty word again) approach.

Apart from paid work, we’ve been sowing grass seed on tent pitches:

March - seeding tent pitches

We took the time to do a thorough job, breaking up the compacted ground a little first (with a fork and a heavy boot!), sowing the seed and raking it in and then covering the seed with fallen leaves as a mulch and a protection from it being blown away or easily nicked by birds.  Never an ant deterrent tho but I think the timing is right and hopefully we won’t find the seed piled up in mounds as in previous years!

With the grass seed sown and the plants in the garden, the ongoing work is keeping everything watered in these days where the rain is rare and the sun is growing increasingly strong.

We also tackled some projects at the house – the terraces were very grubby (from puppy feet and from gardening mess) and needed a proper pressure-wash.  Steve did a fab job at hosing the stone down from top to bottom and the end result was fantastic.  We also pressure-washed the rug whilst we were at it too!



Most of the fun this month revolved around the Lanes.  This was the true party girl – after travelling for nearly 24 hours, via the UK and a sickness bug, she was still up for a loza with her buddies!  Amy, we missed you!


The kids were adorable – I barely even recognised Miles, who had grown into a proper little boy.  Here he is (on the right, still sporting his shiner where he’d fallen off a stool in the US) with Theo:

Theo & Miles

Eloise was all teeth & smiles and just delighted to see her buddy Emilia again:


And our Goddess Daughter, Grace, had grown into a graceful young lady with a thick American accent.  We were touched at how happy she was to see us.  No shy reunion – a full-on, running into my arms for a massive hug… Brought a lump to my throat.

Den & Grace

And Matt, good old Matt – just the same (tho with a broader girth!) and a few lozas later, it was like he’d never been away…

Matt, Den & Nik

March 21st we threw a big party.  Carrie & Maja had just celebrated their birthday the day before, Steve’s was the day after (in fact we broke into song for him after midnight took us into the new day), Jenn had just arrived home from Canada after 5+ months away from us, her ‘family’ in Montenegro and of course Matt & Amy were back and ready to rock the house!!!

The party was the Friday night, the end of the first 2-day workshop for me, and as I was driving home that evening with just a little time to get ready to party, I wondered how I would fare.  A fresh pair of contact lenses, an invigorating shower, a Blue Margherita and a dress to match it and I was UP FOR IT!

We and 35+ guests partied hard and long.  Blue Margheritas got the evening off to a swinging start and it went up hill and down dale from there.  We danced like loonies, sang our hearts out, drank the bar dry, stuffed our faces with crisps and chocolate, laughed hard and had heated debates all over the place.  It was epic.

Here are 2 of the main men… The boys are back in town!

Party 1

And here are the girls who barely got off the dance-floor…  And yes, my dress really DID match my drink until the Tequila ran out…

Party 2

Steve’s birthday turned into a weekend thing.  The house was completely wrecked after the party and I spent half the day scrubbing the floors and washing glasses.  Poor Steve didn’t get a sofa to sit on or a pressie to open until well into the afternoon when the house was finally ready to be re-assembled.  So we wrote-off the weekend, eating left over party food and birthday goodies, watching movies and getting snuggly on the freshly cleaned sofa!

Nature Watch

The weather in March was gorgeous.  The days have just been getting warmer and warmer and rainy days were few & far between.  Nature has taken a leap forward this month – Spring is definitely sprung and now it feels like Summer’s nearly here!

The colours of the trees were so fresh this month – particularly this delicious lime green which this photo just doesn’t do justice to…

Lime green elms

On Daisy walks this month, me & Miss Marmite encountered a couple of tortoises (1 adult and 1 squashed baby, boo…), plenty of orchids and lots of lizards.

There were signs of new life all around, like the baby pine cones emerging on the trees…

March - baby pine cones

And so the cycle of life continues, with the season of re-birth and it feels poignant but appropriate as we learn to adjust to the loss of life.

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